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The Great Alpine Highway (SH73) from Christchurch to the West Coast is an easy drive, taking you through stunning alpine vistas, across the Canterbury Plains, past lakes and rivers into Arthur’s Pass National Park.
The journey to Arthur’s Pass can be completed by road or train (TranzAlpine) both the road journey and the train provide uninterrupted scenic views across the plains and into the foothills and mountains.
As you leave Christchurch, be sure to stop off at one of the wineries in West Melton to grab a take away bottle of locally produced wine, Melton Estate is a great place to stop, just ten minutes from Christchurch.
State Highway 73 is the gateway to five amazing boutique ski areas. To fuel yourself up along the way, stop off at the Famous Sheffield Pie Shop and grab once of their delicious homemade pies, they really are amazing.
If you are travelling early in the morning, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hot air balloon from Ballooning Canterbury drifting across the sky. Plan ahead to experience this incredible balloon flight, they book out fast!
Further up the road in Springfield stop off for an exhilarating jet boat ride with the team at Alpine Jet. This is not your regular jet boat, sure they do the spins, but their journey is through the stunning Waimakariri Gorge and there are some fascinating stops along the ride.
The highway continues on up Porters Pass. The road can have snow on occasion in the winter, it pays to check ahead just incase. It’s well worth the trip to see the unusual limestone rock formations at Castle Hill. Scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe were filmed in this area and the free, easy walking track to the rocks provides a perfect place to stop for a bathroom break and to stretch your legs.
Some of the Selwyn Districts’ most stunning scenery exists in this part of the journey. As you travel through the mountains, alpine lakes with camping areas, walking tracks and rivers are located just on the side of the highway.
The Craigieburn Forest Park is a fantastic spot for a picnic, to camp and boasts an array of levels of walking and biking tracks.
The final part of the journey winds it’s way into Arthur’s Pass National Park. The township is a real gem with the grand Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall, mountain parrots; Kea’s all over town and some great places to spend the night and enjoy the lovely mountain village atmosphere.